Executive Briefings

Retailers, Others Urge Sides to Avoid Port Strike on East, Gulf Coasts

A diverse coalition of more than 120 local, state and national stakeholders, ranging from farmers and manufacturers to retailers and wholesalers sent a letter to the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and United States Maritime Alliance Ltd. (USMX) urging both sides to remain at the negotiating table until they "reach a new long-term contract."

On Dec. 28, 2012 - the day before a planned coast-wide port strike - the ILA and USMX agreed to extend their contract negotiations until Wednesday, February 6, 2013. The two sides are scheduled to meet again to continue negotiations on the coast-wide contract. Unfortunately though, the ILA recently walked away from local talks impacting the Port of New York and New Jersey. It is not known what impact that local action will have on coming negotiations.

"It is critical that a new agreement be reached without causing disruptions to our nation's supply chains," coalition leaders stated in the letter. "We are hopeful that the latest extension and agreement on key issues provides a path to a final long-term agreement before the contract extension expiration on February 6. As you are well aware, failure to reach an agreement will have serious economy-wide impacts. Just the threat of a port shutdown creates a level of uncertainty in today's fragile economic climate threatening growth and jobs. Many businesses have been forced to implement costly contingency plans several times when potential shutdowns loomed. The customers, American workers and logistical networks relying on the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports cannot afford this continued uncertainty."

The labor contract being negotiated covers container port operations at 14 East and Gulf Coast ports - stretching from Maine to Texas - including Boston; New York and New Jersey; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Hampton Roads, Va.; Wilmington, N.C.; Charleston; Savannah; Jacksonville; Port Everglades/Miami; Tampa; Mobile; New Orleans; and Houston.

The National Retail Federation organized the letter, which was also signed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association, American Meat Institute, International Wood Products Association, National Association of Manufacturers, Waterfront Coalition, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others.

Source: National Retail Federation

On Dec. 28, 2012 - the day before a planned coast-wide port strike - the ILA and USMX agreed to extend their contract negotiations until Wednesday, February 6, 2013. The two sides are scheduled to meet again to continue negotiations on the coast-wide contract. Unfortunately though, the ILA recently walked away from local talks impacting the Port of New York and New Jersey. It is not known what impact that local action will have on coming negotiations.

"It is critical that a new agreement be reached without causing disruptions to our nation's supply chains," coalition leaders stated in the letter. "We are hopeful that the latest extension and agreement on key issues provides a path to a final long-term agreement before the contract extension expiration on February 6. As you are well aware, failure to reach an agreement will have serious economy-wide impacts. Just the threat of a port shutdown creates a level of uncertainty in today's fragile economic climate threatening growth and jobs. Many businesses have been forced to implement costly contingency plans several times when potential shutdowns loomed. The customers, American workers and logistical networks relying on the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports cannot afford this continued uncertainty."

The labor contract being negotiated covers container port operations at 14 East and Gulf Coast ports - stretching from Maine to Texas - including Boston; New York and New Jersey; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Hampton Roads, Va.; Wilmington, N.C.; Charleston; Savannah; Jacksonville; Port Everglades/Miami; Tampa; Mobile; New Orleans; and Houston.

The National Retail Federation organized the letter, which was also signed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association, American Meat Institute, International Wood Products Association, National Association of Manufacturers, Waterfront Coalition, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others.

Source: National Retail Federation